Photo of Dave Sutherland.

Dave Sutherland

An American Entrepreneur

Welcome to the office of Dave Sutherland. Dave is a Southern California based American Entrepreneur with a strong aptitude for creative problem solving. He is currently forming a new venture that will harness his decades of experience and vision to create a fun rendering of what could be. The hope is to inspire younger entrepreneurs and perhaps give the world something to smile about.

New Venture

Dave is quietly working with his CTO on the technology for his new venture. A lot is going on behind the scenes… Stay tuned.


An Entrepreneur Is Born…

Dave was born to older parents from the Great Depression era. They enforced strict values that shaped his relentless determination to pursue excellence. When Dave was an infant his parents moved the family from San Diego, to a cattle ranch in Southern Nevada where he would spend his formative years.

Growing up there were no prizes for a job well done other than the satisfaction earned from accomplishing something through determination and perseverance. By todays standards Dave’s parents may seem harsh and as a boy he might of agreed. As an adult, Dave credits his parents for properly equipping him to successfully lean into the many challenges life would throw his way.

A Return to Southern California…

Even from his youth Dave had his sights far beyond the small ranch town where he grew up. When the family made their way back to Southern California at age 12 he began to move rapidly into his life path. Inspired by the entrepreneurial genius of George Lucas, Dave would take hold of the family Super 8 Movie Camera and begin a creative path that would ultimately lead to his first major venture.

Dave was quickly becoming a man and pushed back on limitations, with a strong desire to shape life into the forward leaning place he knew it could be. Like most young men Dave wanted acceptance from his peers and with this adolescent goal in mind he would work multiple jobs, start a window washing business and ultimately roll onto his high school campus in a restored German sports car. With that shallow high school goal met, he needed a greater and more meaningful challenge. He pursued a job at a mall eatery and after much determination and long hours working off the clock, he was given the opportunity to manage all aspects of the operation. In those days schools encouraged young people to grow up quickly and become productive contributing members of society. His school counselor allowed him to leave in the morning, so he could spend the last semester of his senior year managing the business.

The First Big Thing…

Shortly after graduating high school, Dave made a loan and started his first real venture, he was 19 and would never look back. The company was called Live Lights. Over the course of the next 30 years Dave grew as an entrepreneur and successfully guided the company through a rapidly changing world. Along the way he would face many hardships, both professionally and personally and was ultimately being prepared for the next big thing.

Read Dave’s Live Lights Story

Visit The Live Lights Site

Same Values New Direction…

After decades of pushing the boundaries of the live production industry, Dave began to turn his sights to new endeavors. He began the process of winding down the Live Lights era, while quietly developing and testing a new business plan that would pave the way for a different type of venture tailored for the next 30 years. Dave is currently leveraging his resources to bring about this new venture, with the hope of inspiring younger minds as to the amazing world that could be, a world where mankind has already begun to push the boundaries of science, engineering and design.

Dave's Live Lights Story

1986 – 1987
A Rebel Company Is Born

Young and full of ambitious ideas, 19 year old Dave Sutherland founded Live Lights. The culture of the company that first year was one of a rebel group, who shared the ideals of this unusual companies founder. With Dave being the only one full time, those who joined up during the early stages were a truly rare breed, forged from the stuff of legends, but that is a story for another time.

Live Lights, like other great rebel startups of the time, operated out of a garage located in Southern California. Dave secured a small loan and equipped the company with an innovative lighting system. A new type of lighting design company was born and from day one would challenged the status quo.

1988 – 1991
The Journey Begins

No longer a teenager, Dave made a strategic pivot, fully embraced his professional side and pushed into the live corporate production market. He established the companies first contact in that market, with a Technical Producer from a leading Arizona based production company. This move would be the beginning of a journey into a very elite group of companies and professionals who delivered pure excellence.

The companies size and scope began to explode and a full time team was built. The company had earned a stellar reputation for professionalism and excellence, all the while maintaining its unique entrepreneurial culture. Live Lights was well known for unapologetically pushing innovation at every turn and would go on to influence the industry in many ways.

1992 – 2005
Grow Through Innovation

Live Lights innovative approach caught the eye of a consumer electronics company. They presented an opportunity to Dave, that would require the company to expand its services to include full production. While an expansion of this magnitude presented tremendous business opportunities, it would test Dave’s management skills to insure the culture and focus of the company would be preserved.

In the end a new expanded path was forged and every aspect of the company from administrative to operations was retooled for maximum efficiency. The transition had been successfully implemented and the focus and culture was preserved. Live Lights was forever changed and would boldly move on to embrace all areas of production for corporate meetings and exhibits.

2006 – 2014
Grow Through Adversity

Dave broke the mold once again, reinventing Live Lights through an innovative design approach, something the company referred to as Spatial Design. To better reflect this innovative approach, the company was rebranded as Sutherland Design Agency. Within a few years this new business model would be severely challenged by The Great Recession which had a profound impact on the companies client base. This adversity would prompt Dave to take swift action with a significant tweak to the business model that would individually brand varied services as unique companies. The strategic pivot not only held off the devastating effect of the recession but actually allowed the company to thrive in new ways and began to open Dave’s mind to other business operational strategies.

After decades of success, pushing the boundaries of the live production industry Dave was beginning to look to new challenges better suited for the next season in his life. It was the summer of 2012 during the design phase of a project for the same client that pushed the company forward two decades earlier, that a move was made to make this the last official large scale project. January 2013 saw its successful conclusion and by mid 2014 all smaller design commitments had also been fulfilled.

2015 – 2017
A Thoughtful Conclusion

With all professional projects now part of the companies legacy and the core team following other career paths, Dave began to explore new ways to use his lifetime of experience. He quietly formed a new educational brand that would provide a platform to directly share his skills and experiment with new business models. To help fund this endeavor Dave would do some consulting under Sutherland Design Agency for a few select clients.

The decision was ultimately made to wind the company down and complete the sale of the companies asset holdings. Live Lights 30 year legacy is one of creativity, innovation, excellence and overcoming insurmountable odds. Now that Dave has guided Live Lights to a thoughtful conclusion he is moving forward with a new entrepreneurial path.